Cutter Fastball



First time to this site, so please excuse any ignorance on my part if I show any.

My question, I’m a coach for 12-13 year old boys. At the end of last season a couple of my 12-year olds were throwing a cutter on occasion. I know curves and sliders are a no-no at this age, but someone told me that a cutter has no long term effects like that of the “bender” pitches, in that it is just like a fastball and/or changeup in posing any harm to their young arms.

Can someone confirm or deny this fact? I want to approach this with the right amount of caution this winter.

Thank you. What a great site!



A cut fastball, if thrown correctly will treat your arm just like a fastball.

The grip should be slightly off centered and the ball should be thrown like a fastball. Just don’t let your kids get their hand on the side of the ball. Stay behind it, and get your fingers on top.


A cutter or cut-fastball should be perfectly fine for them to learn. Just make sure that they are throwing it properly.


i believe you should teach them how to get movement arm side instead of glove side. get their fastball to tail using pronation and 2-seamers. it’s easier to get the tailing action on a fastball and really at 12 year old you don’t have to foul the batter making him wonder on which side of the plate it’s going to break. a tailling fastball is all they need. remember also that roy halladay from the toronto blue jays went on disabled list and attributed it from using the cutter too often. so if it was really like a fastball, i don’t think he would have made that statement.


Hi Bob. Welcome aboard.

The cutter - when thrown properly - is generally considered relatively safe for young arms. But it’s been my experience that young kids who are taught the cutter will eventually become unsatisfied with the small amount of break (about 6") that a cutter provides and they will eventually try to make the ball break more. That sends them down the path of trying to throw curves and sliders.

So, two things to keep an eye out for. First, the amount of break. If you start seeing your kids throwing pitches that break more than about 6"-8", it’s time to take a closer look at what they’re doing. Second, if you start seeing forward top-spin on the ball, again, it’s time to get suspicious.

What you don’t want to see is supination of the hand/wrist while the arm is coming forward. That is what destroys elbows.


Good post Roger. Where’s that “clapping hands” smiley when you need it?


I’m also on Rogers bandwagon (Call it a gang tackle :lol: )!
What I’d suggest you watch for is the hand at release…I’ve never seen a 12 yr old with the ability to feel the pitch (I consider it a finer part of the art and usually can’t be developed at the 12 yr old level). So what they do is attempt to “cheat” or get their hand in a supinated state (Leading with the pinky and twisting so the ball spins in the way to get that break/movement), so if you see that sort of hand action, attempt to get them to stop it and keep their hand behind the ball.
It and the sinker are both fastball variants and as such thrown right have little impact.


All good points guys…

Good call on the break Roger, I just think that 8 inches is a little much for a cutter. I’d say a good 4 inches is fine for a cutter. 8 I think would be more like a slider. Just my opinion though.


I’ve seen a lot of kids that age who throw a “natural” cutter. It really isn’t good for them. Typically, a cut fastball means they are coming around the ball and they don’t pronate properly and don’t get as much velocity as they would otherwise.

If a 12 or 13 yo is throwing a cutter on occasion then 9 pitchers out of 10 they are really throwing a slider.

All in all, I wouldn’t encourage it unless you are a very experienced pitching coach who has worked with college or pro pitchers and seen firsthand the difference between a legit cutter and a slider and can ensure that the kids are throwing it properly.


[quote=“Hammer”]All good points guys…

Good call on the break Roger, I just think that 8 inches is a little much for a cutter. I’d say a good 4 inches is fine for a cutter. 8 I think would be more like a slider. Just my opinion though.[/quote]

I can actually throw a cutter with a good 8 inches with a certain grip, but I don’t throw it or practice it becuase it would get hammered in a game becuase it’s really slow. I throw it hard but I hold it so off-balance that it goes slow which can hurt your arm a little.

I wouldn’t teach the cutter until an older age. It does take some practice and a good amount of time to throw it the correct way. If you throw pretty hard and your throwing it wrong the next day you’ll really start to feel it.


Hello All,

This was a question that’s been on my mind as well. My son has been throwing a 4 seam fastball for the last 3 seasons…We added a 2 seam last season to get some movement. He just turned 12 last month…and I’ve been wondering if a cutter would be a safe pitch to try and teach him???


First, is it so competitive that you just have to have it? If he can locate, he shouldn’t need a more developed pitch. Change speeds, locate both with the 2 and 4 seam, drop an occasional uncle Charles…at twelve that should wipe out most. My opinion is a true cutter or sinker need both velocity and distance to throw effectively. Now, I know…gonna have people pop up and say they’ve done it but at the short distance, mostly you have to “cheat” to supination to get it, I consider that bad technique. A kid wants to be successful, so getting movement will be how he focuses, however he acheives it. If he continues to be successful he’ll have plenty of time to both grow through puberty and condition while he learns the art and ultimately, usually around the sophmore year, a true cutter, sinker and real change can be developed.


I agree with the sentiment that the cutter is not an appropriate pitch for young players. When thrown properly in practice it shouldn’t really break at all from the pitcher’s point of view. This makes kids add break to it and it becomes a slider.

I threw a cutter and it has a very narrow, specific purpose that isn’t really relevant to young players, nor does it have the same action as a cutter thrown by someone in the upper-80s or above. Really, a cutter thrown by a kid bears almost no resemblance to one seen on tv.

I recorded a full podcast episode for anyone interested in a longer discussion of cutters for amateurs:


For us, developing and learning the forearm pronated cutter is essential to learning the whole process for current and later use. The pronated cutter teaches “axis presentation” understanding from the torque release (outside) side of the ball. This later allows them to Radial flex their wrists a little more to then become a forearm pronated Slider that they learn at 16 BYO.

Here is a pronated version of the Cutter from an unintuitive arm slot, this pitch becomes even better from over the top.

The most important thing a youth pitcher or field player can learn is why the ball moves, not just show them a grip that enhances it. This the reason kids do not learn pitch design that takes many years. The younger the better.

Coaches need to learn that all pitch types can be forearm pronated and the Torque side (Curves, Sliders and cutters) are taught then performed by intuitively forearm supinating, this destroys Elbows.

Youth pitch distance does not matter! All things being relative will act relatively depending on velocity, atmosphere and spin axis presentation, they do all the things at higher power just less actively. It’s the early motor learning and non injurious force application, that is important!

The very best time to learn is between 2 and 9 when you have the most brain power to learn by way of actual gray matter ability, Neural Plasticity is the science, if you need more info on this fact.

All our clients learn 3 fastballs, All forearm pronated. As early as possible!

To start, this lays the foundation for later increased movement by increasing the range of motion of the arm to achieve a Curve, Slider, Sinker and Screwball. They already understand “axis presentation”, that gives them a great learning advantage for the later pitch types. Some of these kids that start early have all 6 pitches by the time they are biologically 16.

The straight and lifting equated horizontally axis presentation backspin fastball (6/12)( traditionally a supinated 4 seamer), We throw this only up, out of the strike zone as a retinal imprinter on batters.

The ball arm side laterally moving fastball (maxline)(traditional nominal forearm 2 seamer) where the “circle of friction” is presented forwards and up 5 degrees each direction that produces downwards and lateral force by Ulnar flexing the wrist thru drive and recovery. Knee high.

The glove arm side laterally moving fastball (Torque)(traditional supinated Cutter) where the “circle of friction” is also presented forwards and up at 5 degrees each direction by Radial flexing the wrist thru drive and release. Knee high.


“The very best time to learn is between 2 and 9”? I hope you are referring to 2 or 9 PM. Most kids cannot even play efficient toss at that age let alone “learning the forearm pronated cutter”.